The demand for celebrants is steadily rising in New Zealand-Aotearoa, with the majority of marriages and funerals now being officiated by independent celebrants.

Both the Certificate in Celebrant Studies and the Diploma in Celebrant Studies are part time, experiential training programmes designed to ensure celebrants have the knowledge, skills and attributes required to deliver appropriate and meaningful contemporary ceremonies that meet the needs of the diverse communities in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Launched over 20 years ago, by pioneering celebrant, Mary Hancock, the Certificate in Celebrant Studies was the first training programme for civil celebrants in the world. It was initially taught through Auckland University of Technology (AUT), but since 2009, has been available exclusively through The Celebrant School. The programme has been comprehensively reviewed and continues to provide the benchmark for celebrant training in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

The Diploma in Celebrant Studies is an extension of the Certificate for those celebrants wanting to further develop their skills and broaden the range of ceremonies they offer.

The Celebrant School has a total commitment to excellence in professional celebrancy practice.

The training is offered in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Programme Summary

The Certificate in Celebrant Studies and the Diploma in Celebrant Studies are part time, experiential training programmes for independent (secular) celebrants.

The Certificate programme is especially suitable for those wanting to become celebrants, or those who have been recently appointed (gazetted) as independent celebrants by the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths, Marriages, Certification, Authentication, and Translations (BDMCAT – the Government Department which administers the Marriage Act) .

The Diploma programme is an extension of the Certificate and requires the successful completion of additional study, not necessarily within the same year.

Both programmes support the Code of Ethics and the Professional Standards of the Celebrants’ Association of New Zealand Inc (CANZ)

The Certificate is made up of a combination of modules selected from the following:

  • Ceremony and Celebration (Compulsory and prerequisite)
  • Marriage and Civil Unions
  • Funerals
  • Transition Through Change and Crisis
  • Professional Practice (Compulsory)

To be awarded the Certificate in Celebrant Studies, a minimum of three modules are required, including the two compulsory ones.

To be awarded the Diploma in Celebrant Studies, all five modules are required.

Note: Compulsory Modules:
The Ceremony and Celebration and Professional Practice Modules are compulsory for both the Certificate and Diploma.

Ceremony and Celebration is a pre-requisite for all other modules.

The Modules

Ceremony and Celebration Module – Foundation Course

This module establishes an understanding of the nature of ceremony and ritual and provides a framework for all the subsequent training modules at The Celebrant School. It includes an in depth introduction to the role and skills of the Celebrant and Ritual Maker, and the practical process for design and development of ceremonies. Participants learn to lead a small ritual, make a brief class presentation, and give and receive feedback to affirm and improve their professional practice.

Marriage and Civil Unions Module

This module is designed for those who wish to be fully trained as professional marriage and civil union celebrants. It ensures a thorough knowledge of the legalities imposed by the Marriage Act and Civil Union Act, and the technicalities of the marriage and civil union ceremony process. It also explores a spectrum of creative enactments that can be incorporated in contemporary ceremonies of commitment.

Funeral Module


This module is designed for those who wish to be competent to design ceremonies for funerals, burials, committal for cremation, scattering of ashes, memorials, unveiling of headstones and home funerals and confidently officiate as the civil funeral celebrant at these events. This module also provides an opportunity for continuing education for experienced funeral celebrants to explore new dimensions in their work, and other practising celebrants who decide they are ready to move into this area.

Transition Through Change and Crisis

This module provides training in the design and delivery of ceremonies for transition through change and crisis – whether personal, family or community (e.g. illness, bereavement, abuse, infertility, separation and divorce, natural disasters etc). It is designed principally for those who have some experience as celebrants (or facilitators) and who wish to extend their practice into this area.

Professional Practice


This module draws together the learning that has occurred in the previous modules and enables participants to apply it to their own particular celebrancy practice (whether public, private or in other paid employment). Students explore culture and spirituality, ethics, communication, and small business skills, all of which are essential components of successful practice as a celebrant.

Who is this training for?

Typically those undertaking this programme fall into one of three main groups:


  • Those who wish to train as celebrants for the major rites of passage in contemporary New Zealand society, particularly baby welcome and name giving, weddings and civil unions, and funerals.


  • Those who wish to use their celebrant skills to serve their family and community for life transitions and celebrations. These may include birthdays, anniversaries, reunions, coming of age, graduations, career changes, new directions, house blessings, etc.


  • Those working in allied professions (including social work, counselling, psychotherapy, teaching, nursing etc) who want to integrate the use of ceremony and ritual into their current work to assist and support life transitions.

Note: Only those who wish to work as a marriage or civil union celebrants are required to be registered / gazetted. This appointment process is entirely separate to training and is undertaken by Birth, Deaths, Marriages, Certification, Authentication and Translations (BDMCAT – the section of the Department of Internal Affairs which administers the Marriage Act). Details are available from

Course details

Method of Study – Part time
The training is available as intensive modules, each usually held over two consecutive weekends on Saturday and Sunday 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
Occasionally mid-week modules are offered.
Assignments and reading are completed outside class time, so students are advised to schedule time for these as well.

Each module includes two practical assignments which must be completed successfully for the student to pass the module.

Computer Skills
Students can enrol with little or no computer skills. However, a commitment must be made to gain computer competency over the year of training.
To pass the Certificate, students are required to demonstrate basic computer skills for celebrancy practice.

The Certificate programme is currently taught in Auckland Christchurch and Wellington.

The fee for each module is $690.00 incl. GST. ($600 + GST).
All fees quoted here are subject to change without notice.
All fees must be paid in full six weeks before the start of the course date. No student shall attend a course module unless all fees have been paid and receipted.

We understand that life happens and sometimes students need to withdraw from a course for which they have enrolled. Early notification is much appreciated, not least because it sometimes enables another student to take up that place.
If only the deposit is paid at enrolment, the balance must be paid electronically or by cheque received six weeks before the module for which the fee is payable. Please note: Deposits are non-refundable.
In the event that some modules become over-subscribed, we keep a waiting list and will notify those people on the waiting list should a cancellation occur. We work very hard to give students their first choices of modules wherever possible!
All fees quoted here are subject to change without notice.

Cancellation and Refund Policy
All fees are payable six weeks prior to the commencement of a module.
If the full fee has been paid, and cancellation is more than six (6) weeks before a module commences, a refund less the deposit will be given.
If enrolment is cancelled 3-6 weeks before the date of the module commencing, a 50% refund of the balance only will be given.
If enrolment is cancelled within three (3) weeks of the module commencing, no refund will be made.
Consideration may be given to individual circumstances. In all situations, the student must apply in writing to explaining the reasons for withdrawal.
Please Note: Deposits are non-refundable.

Students who do not pass a module and are required to repeat will need to re-enrol in the module and pay the full module fee.

CELEBRANT SCHOOL PO Box 60079 Titirangi
Auckland 0642
New Zealand
Jean Green, Administrator
Ph: 021 255 2581

Kathrine Fraser, Director
Ph: 09 6232399

Complaint Process
The Celebrant School has a policy and process in place should a complaint arise.
In the first instance please outline the complaint in writing to:
The Director, Celebrant School,
PO Box 60079 Titirangi,
Auckland 0642
All such issues will be dealt with immediately and confidentially.

Every effort has been made to ensure this information is correct.
However course dates, fees and conditions may change and courses may be cancelled.